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Patio Man

It may be true that David Brooks is not a deep thinker (or at least not a grand thinker), but he often has some penetrating (if uncomfortable for Conservatives) demographic insights:

Some liberals think they are headed for an age of liberal dominance and government expansion. “If Obama offers a big, budget-busting program next year, it will more likely be seen as fair than irresponsible,” Jonathan Alter writes in Newsweek.

But the shift in public opinion is not from right to left, or from anti-government to pro-government, it’s from risk to caution, from disorder to consolidation.

There is a deep current of bourgeois culture running through American suburbia. It is not right wing, but it is conservative: a distrust of those far away; a belief in convention and respectability; and a strong reaction against anything that threatens to undermine the stability of the established order.

Democrats have done well in suburbia recently because they have run the kind of candidates who seem like the safer choice — socially moderate, pragmatic and fiscally hawkish. They, or any party, will run astray if they threaten the mood of chastened sobriety that has swept over the subdivisions.

He's got a point, there. And I don't think he misses the fact that Obama is much more of an incrementalist than a radical.

Also, as with many genuinely curious intellectuals, it can be hard to tell the difference with Brooks between talking-about and talking-for: This is very likely not what he wants (or at least not all of it), but rather what he thinks is. What he wants is the John McCain he profiled and admired. What he's going to get is Obama. He'll be OK with that at an intellectual level, and it may even make him feel safer, but it probably won't make him happy. I doubt we'll see David Brooks "endorsing" Obama before the election.

("Patio Man." Sounds like a newly-identified hominid. Brooks is so square, sometimes, I swear. My father would think he's a hoot. It's weird to think that we're close to the same age....)

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